Managing Anger Can Bring Relationships Closer

Woman in bath with tea

Anger is unavoidable. When it manifests in intimate relationships, the outcome can be less than rewarding. But in a recent article, Utah family and marriage therapist Jonathan Decker gives some valuable tips on how to take an angry situation and turn it into one that can bring partners closer together. Decker says the first step in diffusing anger is to recognize angry feelings before they surface. Every person has physical and physiological warning signs that anger is imminent, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, or tense muscles. These subtle and very real cues let us know that our anger is rising and we need to take a moment to calm down before we let our anger take over.

Decker suggests using calming strategies like going for a walk, taking a hot bath or shower, or listening to some favorite music to calm down. Sometimes those options are not available, of course. One of the best ways to physically settle down is to practice breathing very slowly and deeply. This will lower the heart rate and decrease stress, allowing emotions to be processed more rationally. This leads us to the next step, which involves looking past the anger to the real source of our emotional upset. Anger disguises our true emotions, like fear, worry, sadness, hurt, or shame. Understanding what is really going on will allow us to reveal that to our partner. “Trust them with your vulnerable emotion instead of manipulating them with anger,” Decker says. This draws partners closer rather than pushing them away.

Decker also recommends trying to put ourselves in our partner’s position. We may react with anger when our partner does something that we wouldn’t do. But by trying to see things from his or her point of view, we can decrease our anger and our partner’s defensiveness. Everyone wants to be loved, understood, and accepted. When we turn to our loved ones and tell them we are trying to understand their situation, rather than condemning them for their behavior, their walls come down and respectful communication can occur. Decker knows that these steps may be difficult at first, but with enough practice, they can become habit and help minimize angry conflicts in relationships.

Decker, Jonathan. Fight less, connect more. (n.d.): n. pag. St. George Magazine. Gannett, 4 Oct. 2012. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.

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  • Merritt

    October 23rd, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Oh I totally agree with this entire article. There are times when I get mad at my husband, it’s like I know I am angry with him before he even does anything to set me off if that makes any sense. I wish in a way that I could find a healthy way to communicate this to him before the situation explodes that could in some ways diffuse that anger and not let it become all encompassing like it can be. There are no words that come to mind though to even explain what I am feeling. I just somehow wish that he and I could develop a better skill set when it comes to communicating that would then help me better be able to manage some of those feelings.

  • shania

    October 23rd, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    pretty interesting exercise…although I know its not gonna be easy I will definitely give this one a try …because I always wonder how wonderful it would be if there was no anger because I say and do things that I don’t mean to when I’m angry and this trend only seems to be on the up now.

  • Watson

    October 23rd, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    In all these years of marriage I have learnt that anger is never a great thing to exhibit but there is a lot of patience that can be learn from anger. Just coping with the situation when it is about to boil over can help you not just in averting the ugly situation but also makes you so much better in other areas of your life,its amazing.

  • Justine powell

    October 23rd, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    It is one thing to recognize that maybe you don’t always do the best job at managing your anger.
    But then how are you going to get that to translate into actually managing your anger, channeling that energy in a more positive direction, and then working with your partner so that it makes a positive versus negtive impact in your relationship?
    This is something that will take a lot of work, and in my past experiences I have never really known those who have such angry reactions to be ones who are willing to work on their problems- they prefer to be right all of the time instead of learning what they are doing to contribute to a negative energy within a relationship.

  • maRnie

    October 24th, 2012 at 4:06 AM

    The key is to make sure that the anger gets managed before it creates a wedge that cannot be overcome.

  • Meredith

    October 24th, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I disagree, I think that anger is what allows us to express our true emotions. It does not disguise or hide, it gives a voice to the feelings we have that we haven’t been able to get out before. How is this not healthy? Oh, I am not saying that you have to go into a rage, but why isn’t it alright to express how you feel and get mad from time to time? I think that it is far unhealthier to continue to hold all of that inside. But if you are allowed to let it out, then you can more quickly dispel with the negative emotions and move on to a more positive place.

  • Harriett Y

    October 25th, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    You say that one thing that helps to keep the anger a little more at bay is to put yourself into your partner’s shoes and think about how you would feel if this was being directed toward you.

    My question is this: what if you are with someone that you really don’t care how they would feel? You have had so many bad things happen in this reationship that you may have gotten past the point of caring what they they think or even if you are hurting them with your words and your behavior. if you are in a relationship like this it won’e matter if you put yourself in his shoes because it won’t matter. At times you may actually thnk that you need to do something that will hurt just to get the point across that you are beyond caring for them.

  • Jason

    October 25th, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    As much as I would love to practice these habits I think I’m too lazy to put in the effort. But then the rewards seem big too. I don’t know, maybe I will give this a shot. Will get back and report to all you guys.thanks for the article here.

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